US: United Apologizes, Reverses Truvada Policy After HIV Activists Push Back

Following outrage by HIV advocates after UnitedHealthcare sent a rejection letter to a patient seeking Truvada — denying him due to his “high risk homosexual behavior" — the insurer announced Friday it is changing its policy for the daily HIV prevention pill "effective immediately."

“We apologize for the insensitive language appearing in the letter and regret any difficulty it caused. We have corrected our letters, removed the prior authorization requirement for Truvada and members can fill their prescription at the network pharmacy of their choice,” a spokesperson for the company wrote in an email to NBC News Friday night. 

The monthlong controversy started with a pre-authorization denial letter sent to Thomas Ciganko, a New York man whose physician prescribed Truvada for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). While the rejection came as a surprise, the stated reason was the real shock.

“The information sent in shows you are using this medicine for High risk homosexual behavior,” the letter, dated July 11, 2017, read. In the same paragraph, however, the letter listed an approved reason for taking the medication “to reduce the risk of sexually acquired HIV-1 infection in adults at high risk.”

In 2012, Truvada became the first medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration to reduce the risk of HIV “in adults who do not have HIV but are at high risk of becoming infected.” Approximately 100,000 people in the U.S. are using the medication for PrEP.

Ciganko said he was “very angry” upon reading the letter. “I felt like they were saying, ‘You people are different, and your behavior is not within our moral code,’” he told NBC News. Read more via NBC News